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Another day, another DCFS outrage

Thursday, Nov 14, 2019

* CBS 2

Workers for the state’s child welfare agency knowingly left a 10-year-old child with psychological problems in their office for 30 hours, failing to place the child in a proper facility.

“A stranger who lives on the street could have done a better job” caring for the child, the American Civil Liberties Union’s Heidi Dalenberg told a federal court at a hearing on the Department of Children and Family Service’s failures.

Dalenberg said 10 high-profile DCFS staffers knew of the case. “No one had the sense to take [the child] to the ER,” she said.

The girl was kept in a DCFS office from a Thursday to Saturday in October. She should have been taken to an ER, or psychiatric hospital.

DCFS admitted in court that it’s facing big challenges regarding staffing.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Bad Politician - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 1:34 pm:

    “May 15, 2019 - In addition to the flat $50,000 search fee, the Pritzker transition committee’s contract for the DCFS search included a $3,500 administrative fee to cover search expenses.”

    JB spent an extra $53,500 on an executive staffing agency and these are the results?

  2. - Iamthepita - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 1:37 pm:

    DCFS - “handcuffs? We didn’t know about that! A child abandoned in an office needing ER services? Musta slipped past our radar! We don’t even know what DCFS means!”

  3. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 1:38 pm:

    === Dalenberg said 10 high-profile DCFS staffers knew of the case. “No one had the sense to take [the child] to the ER,” she said.

    The girl was kept in a DCFS office from a Thursday to Saturday in October. She should have been taken to an ER, or psychiatric hospital.

    DCFS admitted in court that it’s facing big challenges regarding staffing.===

    Personnel… is policy.

    That’s 10… 10 staffers.

  4. - Dotnonymous - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 1:49 pm:

    —DCFS admitted in court that it’s facing big challenges regarding staffing.—

    Even bigger than that…for sure.

  5. - Responsa - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 1:51 pm:

    Another shocking tale. The ongoing DCFS crisis conditions should absolutely be at the top of the list for the Pritzker admin to address and fix. Lives are at stake. Few if any other initiatives compare to this with respect to urgency and public outrage.

  6. - Edify - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 1:52 pm:

    I can and will comment on DCFS and its continued plague. This Agency is completely designed to fail. I worked as an Investigator, in the field for two solid years. In those two years I was terrified of what every day might bring. I worked extremely long hours, caseload was pushing 43 ongoing investigations and I had little time to prepare for incoming investigations. I worked a 3 county area and on most days I would get three reports a day and would be expected to initiate all three per mandate, all the while working the other 43 open investigation.
    Office Supervisors did nothing to support their staff. The Union did nothing to support their field investigators. Seasoned investigators would tell you to “shut your mouth” and just collect your paycheck. Many children slept in my office or cars. I ended up resigning on the job while in the field, investigator down. Massive Panic attack, blood pressure 212 over 131 and vicarious trauma took its toll. I had reached out to the then Director BJ Walker and Union Reps about my situation and what I was seeing in the field. I was ridiculed and diminished as credible. The Area Managers, Local Supervisors, and Senior Investigators turned their backs on me and the children they are suppose to serve. I could never live with myself if a child lost their life while on my watch.
    Lastly, its time that all those involved working with or for DCFS need to take responsibility for these continued issues and need to come out and say it…we are all part of the problem.

  7. - Captain Obvious - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 1:55 pm:

    This is not a staffing issue. This is an incompetence issue. If this is how current staff is allowed to treat vulnerable children, then how is hiring more staff going to fix it?

  8. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 1:55 pm:

    === This is an incompetence issue.===

    Personnel is policy.

  9. - Anon - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 2:02 pm:

    Sadly, the problems at DCFS are infused throughout every inch of the main office. After dealing with DCFS senior personnel in my former role, I asked my agency to have someone else deal with them on future issues.

  10. - Robert the Bruce - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 2:04 pm:

    Someone should report DCFS to DCFS. Leaving a kid overnight in an office is neglect. Marc Smith should be telling JB what he needs to clean up these messes. More funding for foster homes, more staff, or maybe a law requiring DCFS executives to take kids home rather than leaving them in the office.

  11. - Reformer - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 2:08 pm:

    DCFS will always always have problems because the focus of the agency isn’t prevention or protection, it is crisis management. If you want to make real and lasting impact, you need a team to walk in the door and do a top to bottom review of the policies, practices, and personnel.

  12. - Father Ted - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 2:16 pm:

    Edify, thank you for sharing your story and for your service to the state and its people in need.

    DCFS generally only deals with people when they’re at their worst, and if that’s not hard enough, is in the position of having virtually no margin of error. Most of us can make mistakes in our job that can be fixed. DCFS needs a foundational overhaul so that it can be put in a position to succeed. I don’t know what that looks like or how it gets done. I don’t know if anyone has the answer. But until it gets addressed, these stories will continue to happen and vulnerable people are suffering.

  13. - Last Bull Moose - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 2:19 pm:

    This is sad. It sounds like the entire agency has burned out. B

    The only person I know who could fix this is too smart to take the job.

  14. - Henry Francis - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 2:21 pm:

    Incompetent is too kind of a word to describe the DCFS staff who knew and allowed this happen.

    They are inhumane.

  15. - Techie - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 2:26 pm:

    Edify’s story confirms my intuition, which is that the problems with DCFS include both incompetence of some existing staff in addition to not having (nearly enough) staff to begin with. That caseload sounds completely unmanageable and can make those with the best of intentions and skills perform poor work since they can’t devote the needed attention to each case.

  16. - Juvenal - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 2:27 pm:

    === DCFS will always always have problems because the focus of the agency isn’t prevention or protection, it is crisis management. ===

    Stop. Just stop, please.

    DCFS is an agency dealing with 10,000 crises at once. That’s their job.

    10 senior staff knew about a 10 year-old girl in crisis and did nothing about it. That’s not crisis management, that’s failure. And it is the kind of failure that ought to get someone fired.

    As is overseeing a contract involving handcuffing kids and purportedly not knowing their was handcuffing going on. “Purportedly” because i dont see how that is possible.

    As is the the death of AJ Freund.

    This agency is not in crisis management mode, they are in PR crisis management mode, and that is never good for the kids.

  17. - Robert the Bruce - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 2:37 pm:

    Edify at 1:52 - sad but not surprising. Thank you for sharing. I suspect the truth is that there’s nowhere for kids to go. Not enough money for residential care facilities and not enough money for potential foster care families to take in youth with more challenges.

    I wish a DCFS executive would have enough morals to say this.

  18. - Perrid - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 2:45 pm:

    Why was she in the office to begin with? Was she taken out of whatever her current placement was because of her mental health crisis? Who decided to remove her if their only plan for her was to put her in a DCFS office? Was she in a mental health crisis, as in a danger to herself or others, the entire 30 hours? If so, why didn’t anyone decide, maybe around hour 4, that this wasn’t working, and she needed more treatment that they could give?

    The article says 10 senior staff were “aware” of the situation. What does that mean? They knew a girl was in the office? They knew she was having a mental health crisis? Who knew what, and when?

  19. - FED-UP2 - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 3:06 pm:

    This is a State Agency failing these poor kids that need help. If a parent left a child in a room for 30 hours with no supervision they would be arrested.
    Gov start some heads rolling and clean the gutters out this is so tragic on all levels.
    We shackle these traumatized kids, leave them in offices, let them sleep on the floor!!! Where is the outrage?
    These kids need our help and Illinois has failed them miserably. Let’s get some answers now.

  20. - Generic Drone - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 4:01 pm:

    Sadly, there are instances where anywhere is better for the child, other than being home.

  21. - Father Ted - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 5:42 pm:

    I get all the people who want heads to roll, but it’s not like there are legions of new heads rushing to replace the ones that rolled. Look at what Edify said above- who would want to take this on knowing how physically and emotionally exhausting it is and the price paid for mistakes that occur?

  22. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 10:13 pm:

    Father Ted -

    I am a huge Jim Collins fan - the business author I mean.

    If you want to get the right people on the bus and in the right seats, you have to get the wrong people off the bus as quickly as possible.

  23. - Father Ted - Thursday, Nov 14, 19 @ 11:27 pm:

    If it’s that simple, I take it you will throw your hat in the ring next time the director position is open?

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